This month I was lucky enough to harvest some bold and beautiful beetroot from my vegetable boxes. Beetroot has exceptional nutritional value and has had a bit of a revival recently thanks to its use by athletes at the Olympics for increasing blood flow to the muscles. An excellent source of folic acid, fibre, maganese and potassium, beetroot really is a superfood.
The greens should not be overlooked either as they are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. They can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as Spinach.
When harvesting fresh beetroot, the greens should still be intact with no signs of spoilage. The beetroot should be a bright red-purple colour, firm and unwrinkled.
When cooking beetroot straight from the garden the leaves should be cut off about 2-3cm above the beetroot so as to minimise the dark red juices ‘bleeding’. You want the beetroot to look like it has a mohican haircut.
Wash the beetroot gently, making sure you do not tear the skins. Place in a pan of warm water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until tender. The best way to tell if a beetroot is cooked is to rub it with your fingers; if the skin moves, then it is cooked.
Fed up of pickled beetroot? Then why not try my vibrant beetroot and bulgur wheat salad, which is simply mouth-watering and nutritious. Bulgur Wheat is high in fibre and protein, so it’s perfect for a low GI diet. This salad can be served as the perfect substantial meat free dish to impress your vegetarian guests or with grilled salmon or chicken for non vegetarians. I always think it’s nice if you are having dinner with friends if the vegetarian guests are eating a dish as close to what the non vegetarians are eating rather than having to eat clichés such as stuffed peppers or mushroom pasta. Any leftovers can be refrigerated for a tasty, nutritious lunch the following day.
2 medium beetroot peeled and cut into wedges.
2 red onions peeled and cut into wedges
200g bulgur wheat
100g beetroot greens/spinach leaves
350ml chicken/vegetable stock
200g frozen peas
Handful of fresh mint, chopped.
1) Preheat oven 200C/180C Fan/Gas mark 6.
2) Place beetroot and onion wedges on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and gently mix together. Roast for 25-30 minutes.
3) Pour bulgur wheat into a deep pan and toast for 1-2 minutes. Gently pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
4) If you wish to add chicken or fish place under the grill now for required cooking time.
5) Add the frozen peas and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Set aside for ten minutes to cool.
6) Squeeze over lemon juice. Stir in mint and beetroot greens/spinach leaves. Crumble over the feta cheese and mix together.
7 ) Divide bulgur wheat salad between four plates. Place a portion of roasted onion and beetroot on top and serve for a delicious vegetarian meal.
8) Place grilled fish or chicken on top of roasted beetroot if desired and serve. Delicious!